Monday, April 30, 2018

one month post op

We are officially a month out from our shunt revision in March, and I can happily say that this surgery was an excellent decision.

I can’t tell you how good it feels to type that because in the days leading up to it, J.B. and I felt absolutely tortured. Her scans were so clear, but her symptoms were so bad. It was logically the next step, but it’s also incredibly hard to give the nod to a neurosurgeon when you don’t have brain scans to back up the decision. 

Needless to say, we brought home a change gal last month. And it’s stunned us over and over again to watch her bloom. Because her shunt failure was so slow and intermittent, we never saw the dramatic change that many people experience in this situation. We didn’t even realize just how different she had become over time until after surgery, when her full, feisty personality came back in full force.

I guess I say all that to say:
Follow your gut. Mom gut is so real.
Trust your team. I’d put my money on Vanderbilt’s neurosurgery team a hundred times over, and I’m so glad to have the relationship with them that we do.

Now, we just get to watch Eliza doing what she does best: impress us! Her already fantastic language has blown up! Her physical therapy has taken off! And her overall attitude is just so dang enjoyable! Even that big patch of hair they had to shave worked out fine. It's right under where her hair bow rests! Woohoo!

God is good all the time! And all the time, God is good.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Shunt life, take two

We squeaked in our D.C. trip for Jake just days before Eliza was scheduled to have surgery, but as soon as we were home again, it was back to business. While it wasn't emergent, our gal really needed some serious attention.

We arrived at Vanderbilt in the wee morning hours and after a good deal of prep, our gal was in the operating room by 10 a.m.. 

The surgery that our neurosurgery team would be doing would be an exploratory brain surgery and a shunt revision. What is a shunt? Well, Eliza has a condition known as hydrocephalus, which is very common among individuals with spina bifida. It means that cerebral spinal fluid created in the brain has a hard time draining down through the rest of her body. Obviously, the brain cannot have massive fluid build up! Most with hydrocephalus have a shunt in their brain that creates a path for the spinal fluid to drain properly.

Despite the fact that its brain surgery, shunt surgeries are typically pretty quick and simply, thankfully. Our neuro team was taking quite a bit longer in the operating room this time because they were also doing an exploratory surgery along with the revision. Giving the confusing nature of both her symptoms and her scans, it wasn't clear if Eliza's shunt really was malfunctioning or working property. Basically they wanted to troubleshoot the existing shunt in order to confirm the malfunction. This was our biggest worry. What if they didn't find anything wrong with it? What if we sent our gal into the O.R. for no reason? Even though it was the best option for her, this mama was seriously stressing in the waiting room.

Thankfully, in the operating room, our neurosurgeon did find that Eliza's shunt had several clogs in it. It was only partially functioning. After replacing all the equipment in her little noggin', she was stitched up and sent on to recovery.

While her anesthesia recovery was a hot mess (typical for my gal), she actually slept well in the hospital that night. I credit it to the massive amount of Disney movies that I brought with us. I wore her out with cartoons and the nurses loved coming into our room and bursting into song. Since she was eating and sleeping well, the neuro team felt comfortable sending her home early. After just one night! Go Eliza!

 And what a girl I brought home! She was absolutely changed!! Her personality was so bright! Her speech crystal clear! She was busy and silly and fun! This malfunction had been going on for so long (4 months) that we had almost forgotten what life used to be like. No pressure on her brain? Of course she feels better! It was such a joyful celebration to see her light up again!

We'll have to work on that big section of shaved hair, but by golly, a small price to pay to have our gal back!